Wed June 20, 2007
Billy Strayhorn documentary to air Friday
Lush Life explores the legendary artistic legacy of Duke Ellington's co-composer
By Chris Cooke
Omaha, Nebraska – Many jazz fans know that Billy Strayhorn was Duke Ellington's celebrated co-composer who wrote such celebrated gems "Take the A-Train" and "Passion Flower".
A radio documentary, Billy Strayhorn: Lush Life acquaints jazz fans with much more of the life and music of the landmark American songwriter and Ellington confidant.
A musician who defied category, Strayhorn was born November 29, 1915, in Dayton, Ohio. As a young man he was a gifted, largely self-taught musician. While attending Westinghouse High School in March of 1934, he was the featured piano soloist in a performance of Grieg's "Piano Concerto in A Minor". The next year saw Strayhorn write music, skits and lyrics for "Fantastic Rhythm", a Cole Porter-style musical revue at his high school.
A fateful meeting in Pittsburgh while Duke Ellington was passing through town led to a lifelong association with the great bandleader, which resulted in some of the most brilliant compositions in all of jazz history. That association lasted until Strayhorn's death in 1967 at the age of 51.
Billy Strayhorn: Lush Life features interviews with Pianist Bill Charlap and Saxophonist Joe Lovano who with Vocalist Diane Reeves and others well-known jazz artists interpret Strayhorn's compositions "Lotus Blossom" , "Chelsea Bridge", "Raincheck", "Day Dream", and "Something to Live For". Additionally, obscure Strayhorn gems
like "Fantastic Rhythm", "The Flowers Die of Love" and "Valse" are examined.
Lush Life is hosted by Rhonda Hamilton and produced by Josh Jackson
of WBGO Jazz 88 in Newark, New Jersey.
Billy Strayhorn: Lush Life will be aired Friday, June 22nd at 1:00pm on KIOS.
Chris Cooke is the host of Jazz in the Afternoon and Last Call on KIOS-FM.